We’ve been doing a lot lately on the farm to get ready for another growing season, and have several garden and farm projects in the works, including: new irrigation system, a lavender field, new growing beds, refreshing beds in our home garden, an English garden and much more (yes I am tired 😉 ). There are two tools that are irreplaceable in our day to day efforts: The Hori Hori and the Dibber.
Let’s start with the Hori Hori. This is one of my favorite tools out in the fields. I’ll give you a quick summary of how I used this Japanese Garden Knife and Tool out on the property yesterday:
Cutting through stubborn roots while digging an irrigation ditch.
Digging out a sprinkler riser to replace
To put soil into a new pot
To cut lengths of drip line for a new irrigation zone
Cutting through landscape fabric for planting
As a garden trowel
To remove some stubborn weeds in the gravel driveway
The Hori Hori is really the Garden Samurai (You can read more here: Hori Hori Garden Tool), and a garden tool I wont leave in the shed.
Second on the list is one of my new favorites, the Garden Dibber or Dibble. This tool has been around since man started farming, and is essentially a tool for seed and bulb planting. It essentially provides a simple way to drill holes in your soil with minimal effort. Today, as I go out to plant, here is how I will use this unique garden tool:
To plant some new Ranunculus bulbs we just received (as a bulb planter)
To poke some irrigation holes around newly planted trees
To make holes in some new ground cover
As a seed starter to open up soil for new seed
This garden tool is light and simple to use and makes little effort out of starting you new plants in any type of soil.
We’ve all used many different things to make holes in the ground for seeds or bulbs. I know I have. Nothing has been off limits: a stick, screwdriver, dowel, shovel handle, and yes, even a finger. But a dibber, also known as a dibbler or dibble, is a garden tool made for this very purpose. Its first recorded use was back in roman times, usually made from old tool handles, and its design has not really changed.
What Should I Look For When Buying A Modern Dibber/Dibbler?
Today, many of the dibbers on the market are made in China and have a metal tip, and are made of low quality wood in the form of a “T”. High quality dibbles have the following features:
Are Dibblers Just Used For Seed Planting/Starting?
There are two different types of dibblers, those for planting seeds and those for planting bulbs. Bulb dibbles are typically longer with a fat body and point to create a large hole. They have a flat point to create a firm contact point for the bottom of the bulb, and lines at one inch intervals for reference.
Seed dibbles on the other hand, are typically skinny and pointy, and create a small hole for starting seeds. Quality dibblers will have quarter inch marks, and then inch increments. These dibblers also have a flat tip for solid seed contact in the soil.
How Are Wood Dibbers Made?
All natural wood dibbers are made through the process of wood turning on a lathe. Here is a time-lapse video of a seed bidder being turned in our shop.
What Are Dibbers Made Of?
Dibbers are made of all different types or materials, including wood, metal and plastic. It is all a matter of preference which one you would like in the garden. I use a wood dibber garden tool for my outdoor bulb planting, and a nice small plastic one for inside seed planting. Here are the attributes of a quality dibber in the modern age, and one any gardener would appreciate:
Dibbers are made of a solid hardwood (maple or mahogany) and weather the elements quite well
A solid wood dibber handle for leverage in making deep holes or penetrating hard soil.
A pointed tip to keep going and going
Turned wood handle for aesthetics
Thick wood for a solid grip
Are There Different Types of Dibbers?
The Plastic Dibber
This small dibble is great for seed tray work, or working with small seeds. They are relatively cheap, and will last as long as you dont leave them in the sun. Call me a traditionalist though…I like my wood turned dibber 😉
Ah, the modern dibber. This dibber is a low cost option for those with hard soil or small hands. Its steel tip wont get worn down over time, and it provides a great set of uses out in the garden. Click the image for more info.
The wood turned dibber is popular for its aesthetics and durability. Typically made of hardwood (maple or mahogany) it is crafted to be an heirloom, and be passed down to generations of gardeners. We make our own and use these on our farm and in our garden. Click the image for more info.
I know we use ours on the farm constantly (I just used it for planting Ranunculus and Anemone today), and after a 1000 bulbs, i am thankful for this handy tool. Dibbers have a wide variety of uses. Here are all the uses for a dibber:
To make holes in soil for seed planting
A hole-maker in soil for bulb planting
You can break up potted plant roots as you plant them in the garden
For cleaning dirt from tubers
For leverage in propagation with large roots.
To aerate the soil around a plant
For creating deep water holes for plants in hot climates